The Art of Tea Drinking

 

Tea Making

To make a good pot of tea, special attention must be paid to the quality of the water, water temperature, the amount of tea leaves, and the type of teapot.

 

Water

The taste of the water will affect the flavor of any tea. Chlorine and fluoride in tap water should be filtered out as they harm the flavor of the tea. Distilled water makes flat tea and should be avoided. High mineral content in the water brings out the richness and sweetness of green tea. Ideal tea water should have an alkaline pH around 7.9.

Tea House

In the old days, the tea house in China was a place for town people to communicate and exchange information. Today, it is a common place for people to relax, chat, and be entertained. A good teahouse has an artistic interior design, exhibitions of Chinese paintings and calligraphies, exquisite tea serving wares, and a mood setting tea garden with bamboo greens, water falls, and golden fish and lily ponds. Some tea houses also provide cultural performances such as Chinese Opera singing and story telling. These performances, called Qing-Chuang (pure lyric singing), usually have a female singer accompanied by a male musician playing Chinese music instruments, like Er-Hu. Poets and artists like to use tea house to meet their peers to exchange their intellectual views, develop deep friendship, and some even become soul mates.

Temperature

Different types of tea should be brewed in different temperatures.  Green teas are ruined by boiling water. Oolongs made with under boiled water are more fragrant.  The correct temperatures for various kinds of tea are:

· Lightly fermented green teas:149-167°F

· Moderately fermented: 203-208°F

· Fully fermented black tea: boiling water

 

Quantity

Use an amount of tea that is equivalent to 1/3 of the size of the pot. Too much tealeaves make the tea bitter and strong.

 

Time

Steeping time starts at 1 minute, increments with degree of fermentation.  The subsequent brews from the same leaves should be slightly lengthened.

 

Teapot

The best kind of teapot is a small purple clay pot. It brings out the full aroma and sweetness of the tea. The most famous teapots are from Yi-Xing in China.

Tea Ware

To make tea, you need a set of tea ware—tea pot, a half dozen of tea cups, a serving tray for the cups, container for holding the tea after brewing and serve tea, tea boat, tea tong or funnel to handle the tea leaves, tea canister for storing the tea leaves, towel and waste water bowl.    

The meanings of serving tea

The custom of serving tea has many meanings at different occasions.  We describe parents who long for their sons to get married as “wanting to drink the daughter-in-law’s tea”. Because, in traditional Chinese marriage ceremony, the bride and groom will kneel in front of groom’s parents and serve the parents tea.  That is a gesture of gratefulness to your parents. By accepting the tea from your daughter-in-law, it means the parents welcome her into the family.

Younger generation usually serves tea to the elderly as a way of showing respect. Or a lower rank person serves tea to a higher rank person. When a higher rank person serves tea to a lower rank person, it means approval, showing praise.  On the other hand, when we have a serious apology to make and words are just not enough, we serve tea in a formal banquet as an act of regret and submission.

Tea Pot

Teapot has become important art in China since the beginning of tea drinking.  We have some  display on this website.  Teapot is made from red sand clay extracted very deeply in the ground in China, some calls it purple clay.  The most famous teapots are created in a small town called Yi-Xing, near Shanghai. Yi-Xing teapots are hand made, not shaped on a wheel.   They don’t lose heat quickly, so it gets more flavor out of tea. The more you use the teapot, the better the tea becomes.  It is the way to cultivate the teapot.  You don’t wash the teapot with soapy water, just rinse it with cold water after finishing tea making.

 

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